Why are the majority of Canadian undergraduate students female? Perhaps you might notice underway, a "natural experiment". Rich and powerful men don't wear ties as often as they used to.
Once you've got your observation - your puzzling phenomenon, your change in the world - then you have to ask yourself "Is it right for me? Sure, hotness will grab your attention, and keep you interested for a while. And, realistically, your goal is to graduate with a degree in economics. For micro, that means an explanation based on people's choices or people's constraints - underlying material realities.
But in the long run, you have to ask yourself: what do I want? To achieve that goal, pick a research topic that passes two tests. Consider, for example, the question "Why are a disproportionate number of nail salons run by people from Vietnam".
"Culture" is a lousy explanation because culture can explain just about anything. " "Because it's their culture." A good explanation will involve choices: people work in nail salons because it's the best option available.
It could be, for example, that information about how to work in, or operate, a nail salon is transferred through social networks, communities of friends and relations.
Not culture, but "cultural capital" or ethnic capital that builds skills, knowledge, and human capital.When two things happen at the same time, how do you know: does A cause B, or does B cause A."Look, I've found that professors rated as hot on my earn more!!!Let's assume that you have it all: a great idea, an economic theory that generates testable hypotheses, data, a brilliant instrumental variables strategy that allows you to deal with any potential endogeneity concerns.Then the dating scene reality hits you once again: all the good ones are taken. But you can do things that will stack the odds in your favour. If you go out into the world, you can observe between places, and over time. There's no magic formula that guarantees you will meet the one person who is right for you.There are tens of thousands of economists all trying to come up with brilliant research ideas.The odds that someone, sometime, has explored a research problem similar to yours are high. Taking a US study and re-running it using Canadian or other data, updating a study that someone else has done before with more recent data or better econometrics techniques, focussing in on particular population subgroups - all of these are valuable contributions.To begin with, take a page from the dating advice manuals: be open, receptive to new experiences. For example, why are so many nail salons run by people from Vietnam? Chip and pin credit card machines that automatically calculate restaurant tips. Many British people dry their laundry outside on clothes lines; most Canadians use driers.Go some place you haven't been before - in the real world, or in some virtual reality. Why has the number of walk-in health clinics been growing in Ontario? In some places most people are thin, elsewhere most people are overweight.